Review: Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland was the first GAC adventure ever written, and the second one (after Apache Gold) to be published.

The plot starts off okayish. Stranding in the Himalayas with your plane - that leaves room for discovering an ancient civilization, a lovecraftian scenario, a Tomb-Raider-like treasure hunt in a cave, an educative game about the Bön religion. Plenty elbowroom.

What do we get? We’re supposed to get back to civilization, but after a few steps we stumble across a ridiculous holiday resort where the rest of the game takes place until the sudden end. Rooms and NPCs just serve as vehicles for incoherent, sometimes obscure puzzles, the story stops existing. To spoil one puzzle: In room C you need a ski pass to continue, in room B you find a ski pass frozen in the ground(!), and in room A you find “a fluid” that you can pour on the ground in room B to get the ski pass. Once you’re in the holiday resort the initial immersion (Lovecraft! Tomb Raider!) starts to wane pretty quickly. The end is unsatisfying.

The implementation is good for a GAC game - the two-word parser is solid, synonyms are understood, the room descriptions are way less sparse than in comparable games. If you know the GAC you know what downside to expect from this: While navigation and picking up objects run fairly quickly, solving actual puzzles allows you to set up a coffee between inputs, and if a three-word input is required (e.g. GIVE X TO Y) you can take a shower between turns. (Disclaimer: Slightly exaggerating here for stylistic reasons. Slightly.) There’s a few graphics. Memory shortage was always an issue for GAC games, so don’t expect anything photorealistic.

Conclusion: Starts nicely, technically pretty solid for a GAC game, gets boring on the way.

Played on a C64 back in the 19th century, revisited with a C64 emulator now.


Not to be confused with Winter Wonderland by Laura Knauth, which I coincidentally just started playing and is quite good, as far as I can tell from the introductory locations.

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